Feature Article – Games Matter by Marlin Detweiler
Educational Helps – by Laurie Detweiler
An interesting and problematic phenomenon has arisen in classical Christian educational circles, schools and homeschools, and I fear I may have contributed to the problem. It’s the idea that curricular endeavors are more important than extra-curriculars.
There have been many instances where I have been asked to speak or consult and was asked about the role of these extra curriculars—sports, musical performance, drama, etc. Until recently, I have responded by suggesting that “we must gain substantial ground and stability in the curricular realm of educational recovery before thoroughly addressing the less important extra-curricular.” At the same time I was critical of parents who removed their kids from these classical schools with already dwindling school population in upper grades. Many times these parents would indicate that the schools lack of extra-curriculars was the reason for leaving. It seemed a misplaced sense of priorities.
all, of my four boys I have one who will start at
Difficulties and weaknesses still remain. Team sports are the biggest challenge. Small schools, let alone homeschools, will always have great difficulty fielding a championship football team. Then, throw in basketball, football, orchestra, band and soccer and there will never be enough participants or resources. My boys would have loved to have more options.
many homeschooled or classically schooled
student-athletes can you name that are or have played
Division 1 College sports on a scholarship, let alone professionally? Not many.
Initially, we might be inclined to say, “So what?”.
Well, here’s what. Sports (and the arts) are a big part of life in
Furthermore, there are things we learn from functioning as a team in athletics and the arts. Look at Congress. How many senators and representatives do you expect were athletes, even stand-out athletes earlier in life? Remember Jack Kemp? Bill Bradley? Jim Bunning? The list is quite long. The things we learn from competing are both hard to learn elsewhere and very important in leadership.
Let me concede that sports are not for everyone. Neither is drama or music (except singing, but that’s another subject). Leadership isn’t for everyone either. However, Christian community is. What I failed to see, when previously downplaying the importance of these activities, is what they do to the building of Christian community. Debate teams and mock-trial teams are wonderful. They challenge the student to apply what he has learned in important ways. They create a sense of camaraderie and connection. But nothing brings a group together like a football or basketball game. And nothing builds character like the tense moments of the games we play for the players and fans.
As we observe the marketplace we see some trends—some good, some not. The first is the one already mentioned—we underestimate the value of these activities and suffer the consequences of not keeping our schools filled and not developing the whole of our children. The second is our culture can be quite separatist. We don’t want our kids associating with bad kids and being influenced by them so we avoid contact at all cost—even the sports teams. My observation of folks in this extreme is that they produce effeminate men who are hardly ready to be like David or Daniel for the kingdom.
There’s another trend. Homeschool organizations and organizers bring kids together in highly competitive teams. I was thrilled to learn of some of them. Still in early stages, yet making great strides, these organizations stand ready, willing and able to make a difference. Schools are getting to it, as well. Some are realizing that planning for graduating classes of 30 may not cut it and are putting strategies in place for 200 instead.
We should also mention the trend on the other side of the ditch. It’s the one that thinks too much of sports and other extra-curriculars. Golf, football and the like are far more likely to be our idols of the day than a wooden Baal kept on the mantel. We need to stay away from that one, as well.
This is an enormous subject and much can be said. Suffice it for now that you should be aware of opportunities and avoid the ditches. Your children will thank you for it. And our God will be pleased to see His people called after His name ready, willing and able to do that which they are called to do.
From the above article you certainly saw that our family’s extracurricular activities have primarily been sports. As a mother of four boys, I have spent countless hours behind the wheel taking children to different sports activities. Like everyone else I have asked myself the question, Is it worth it? Now that three of the four boys are in college and life is slowing down, I can look back and answer yes.
Marlin and I both were very athletic growing up. We both played high school and college sports. Marlin played baseball, basketball, soccer, and golf, and I ran track. By the time Marlin got to college, he had narrowed it down to golf, but along the way he investigated many avenues.
boys did the same thing. When they were younger they tried baseball,
basketball, tennis, golf, gymnastics, dance and soccer. As they grew older and
became more proficient, they found the sport that interested them the most.
One, Travis, took far more interest in theater and music. Interestingly, he, as
a theater major, is physically the strongest in the family. None of the others
want to try to “bench press” what he can. Brandon, our second son, is now
playing golf for
I wish I had a penny for every time someone said to me, How do you do it? Why are you causing all that chaos in your life? I am not going to do that; we’ll never have supper together again. Yet they look at our boys and also ask the question, How are your boys so motivated and successful? I believe that one of the reasons for their determination and success is SPORTS. Sports teach discipline and perseverance. And I want you to know that, even though all four boys were into different sports, I believe that we spent more time together than most families. But, it took effort on my part to orchestrate that. Who says that a family dinner must be around the kitchen table? How about packing a wonderful dinner and having a picnic. One of the things that I did when my children were young and it was my husband competing, was to take the children to watch him. We would show up for the last three holes of his tournament and watch Daddy play. Then many times we would go out to dinner or I would pack a picnic for the car. They learned early on that part of our family routine was to be encouraging to one another. Over the years I have had many mothers tell me that that it is just too much work, but it really wasn’t. It was a great joy! And I can tell you there were many jealous fathers out there. We did the same thing as the boys became competitive or were a part of a show; we all went to each other’s events. Of course, now that everyone is in different places, it is harder, but we still make the effort.
What I am trying to tell you is you can be a family without staying home all the time. Our children know that family dinner is going to happen at home most nights; it just might not be at the kitchen table every night. The memories that we have created are ones that I know will last a lifetime. Remember, any thing worth doing is usually hard work. It can be a great joy and does not need to divide a family. But it will take some planning and effort.
Local homeschooling organizations are always a good place to inquire when looking for arts and sports participation opportunities. While we cannot vouch for everything from the organizations we’ve listed, you will find some links below to aid your search for extra-curricular endeavors:
Homeschool Sports Net: The only national organization dedicated to the promotion of any and all homeschool sports.
A to Z Home's Cool: A general information site for homeschooling with great information on sports.
Association of Theater for Children and Young People: The national service organization promoting theater for young audiences.
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Q. My state requires science to be taught in grammar school. I understand why you do not teach it in grammar school, but what can I do?
A. There are many things you can do to meet the requirement without actually teaching science with a traditional text. There are some books that look at science in the ancient world that connect with the science of today, full of great history and experiments that are a good addition to your history (Science in Ancient Egypt, Science in Ancient Greece, Science in Ancient Rome and Ancient Science). Additionally, in grammar school have them memorize those things in the sciences that they will use later. For this we recommend Lyrical Life Science. Although we only sing the songs, there are also other activities to do. Between these two things you should easily satisfy your science requirements.
Q. I have young children who love to be read to. Do you have a Bible that you would recommend for our family reading? I feel like they do not always understand when we read out of the Bible.
A. We love The Child’s Story Bible. This was first published in 1943 and is considered a classic children’s Bible by many. We believe it is the most accurate story Bible available and one that does not gloss over some of the more difficult texts. It also is written well enough for older children to enjoy and not become bored.
Please submit any questions you’d like answered here to email@example.com.
Veritas Press Scholars I - Lesson Plans
Preparing the lesson plans has been an “all hands on deck” endeavor. It has been an enormous project contributed to by a couple dozen folks. Several grades should be ready to ship very shortly—in the next couple days. If all goes as expected, others will be a week or two behind. It will almost certainly be the case that we will ship some disciplines like history and Bible for the first semester now and the second semester a couple months later. They are shaping up to be even more than we have hoped. Our writers, editors and proofreaders have done remarkable work. If you’ve ordered them, you are in for a real treat.
Last call for the Veritas Press Scholars Online Courses for the 2007–2008 school year. This is the second year we have held online courses. The offerings are far more extensive this year and the feedback continues to be a blessing. For information on the offerings, click here.
Homeschool SportsNet : 11 Years and Going Strong . . .
HSPN's Executive Director, Chris Davis, and his wife, Kathy, have been homeschooling for 17 years, and he has coached homeschoolers since 1993. He started HSPN in 1997 and it continues to be a volunteer-based ministry. The Homeschool SportsNet is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. It is the only national organization dedicated to the promotion of any and all homeschool sports. The web site (www.hspn.net) is the most-visited homeschool sports web site in the country, and their exclusive team locator page lists and identifies homeschool sports organizations for each state.
East Coast Basketball Championship is held at
Homeschool SportsNet offers
a variety of workshops, speaking engagements and training seminars on "How
to Start a Sports Program" and "Leadership Conferences". Their
"Handbook for a Successful Sports Program" can be purchased on-line
and contains 30 pages of tips compiled over 15 years of homeschool
coaching. In August, HSPN will be conducting workshops in
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